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One thing is certain: the 75th Cannes Film Festival was a certifiable hit. With the Covid-19 pandemic dampening the 2021 festival and outright canceling the 2020 festival, this year’s fest roared back to life with an incredible offering of memorable films.
The festival’s top honor, the Palme d’or, was awarded to director Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness, a truly unforgettable satirical (and very graphic) film making a statement on modern-day class and classism. BBC wondered if it was the “most disgusting film” of the year; I can say, as someone who watched the movie, this superlative was earned.
In one horrific scene, we see the passengers of a luxury yacht getting food poisoning in the dining hall. I will cease describing it here and let your imagination fill in the rest of the scene. And whatever you’re imagining, up the “yuck” factor by 10. I’ve never seen anything like it onscreen, and I sincerely hope I don’t ever again.
Though the seasickness portrayed – which led to shrieks of disgust from journalists in the audience – was a bit much, the rest of the film was riveting from start to finish. Actor Woody Harrelson as the yacht’s captain was exceptional casting. Late film critic Roger Ebert famously said, “no bad movie is short enough, and no good movie is long enough.” This film was exceptionally long (especially for a comedy), but I barely noticed. The movie was never boring; there were no airy gaps. Triangle of Sadness did what Parasite did at the 2019 Cannes – both films created such a stir, such a “you must see this movie” energy. And those are the kinds of films that make Cannes Film Festival so exciting and so relevant. Triangle of Sadness is “about” two models who have a strained romantic relationship together and with their careers and find themselves on a luxury yacht where everything goes wrong. Director Östlund also won the Palme d’or in 2017 for another satire, The Square.
The Un Certain Regard Prize went to The Worst Ones, directed by Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret. Kicking off the Un Certain Regard lineup was Omar Sy’s film Tirailleurs, a gripping Senegalese-French film about the atrocities of war and colonialism.
The Grand Prix, a jointly awarded honor, went to Close from director Kukas Dhont. The star-power at the festival was out in full force, too, with the premiere of two major blockbusters that I predict will do very well this summer. Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis got a 12-minute standing ovation; some say that’s a record. Tom Cruise brought Top Gun: Maverick to the festival to open Cannes and make it feel like its “old self” again. Ethan Cohen’s Jerry Lee Lewis: Trouble in Mind will have Cohen fans excited to flock to theaters or queue this up on a streaming service.
The prize for “Best Screenplay” went to Tarik Saleh for Boy From Heaven, a powerful Egyptian film that turns a scrutinizing eye on religion and government. Iranian film Holy Spider caused a big stir at the festival too, and its lead actress, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, won “Best Performance by an Actress” at Cannes. Holy Spider was directed by Ali Abbasi; many have called the film graphic. The “Best Performance by an Actor” honor went to Song Kang-ho in the film Broker. The Jury Prize was awarded to EO from director Jerzy Skolimowski.
French thriller film Novembre, focused on the November 13, 2015, Paris attacks, and it pulled at the heartstrings of those who love the City of Light. Paris-born actress Léa Seydoux had two films at this year’s festival, the David Cronenberg-helmed horror film Crimes of the Future, and One Fine Morning. Seydoux is no stranger to Cannes; she gained global recognition when her 2013 film Blue is the Warmest Color won the Palme d’or.
That’s one of the most exciting things about the Cannes Film Festival – it’s where so many soon-to-be stars and brilliant directors find an audience on the global stage. Cannes is a little bit magical in that regard; it can take – as it did at the last pre-pandemic festival in 2019 – a relatively unknown South Korean film and propel it to Best Picture at the Oscars. To that end, it’ll be fun to watch Triangle of Sadness light up the world with its memorability; just don’t forget to shield your eyes during the dining room scene if you have a weak stomach.
Lead photo credit : Film still from 'Triangle of Sadness,' which won the Palme d'Or 2022. Credit: Cannes Press Office